The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a UK-registered pan-European
foundation dedicated to raising awareness of Azerbaijan and fostering closer
economic, political and cultural links between that country and the nations of Europe.
In addition to promoting the positive aspects of Azerbaijan, TEAS also highlights the
plight of the 875,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within the
country. These people are unable to return to their homes and lands due to the illegal
occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions by Armenia’s armed
forces – in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions.
TEAS was launched in November 2008, having initially been established as the
London Azerbaijan Society four years earlier. The organisation now has offices in the
UK, Belgium, France, Germany and Turkey, along with a representative office in
TEAS has three main facets to its operations:
 Culture – TEAS raises awareness of Azerbaijan’s rich and vibrant culture to a
worldwide audience by organising cultural events and operating as a
networking centre.
 Business – TEAS supports its membership of European and Azerbaijani
businesses. It provides a platform for organisations to establish links and
strengthen their existing business relationships via a programme of networking
opportunities across the regions.
 Public Affairs – TEAS works to increase awareness about Azerbaijan amongst
key opinion-formers, key decision-makers and other political, academic and
civil society stakeholders.
For more information on all TEAS events, both past and future, go to

Azerbaijan’s Centrality in the Geopolitical Role of the Caspian

In the context of the refugee crisis and changing relationships between the West with
Russia and Iran – both of which are neighbours of Azerbaijan – this is a pivotal time
for the South Caucasus powerhouse to demonstrate its importance to the region. On
21st October these were highlighted during a panel discussion in Paris at L’Hôtel de
l’Industrie, headquarters of the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale
(SEIN), located near the Sorbonne University, and the centrepiece of French industry
since 1852. The conference was organised by TEAS France, the International
Geostrategic Maritime Observatory (IGMO) and SEIN, and attended by over 60
delegates, including H.E. Elchin Amirbayov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to France; H.E.
Aurelia Bouchez, incoming French Ambassador to Azerbaijan; and diplomats from
the Iranian, Georgian, Russian and Turkish embassies, amongst others.

Azerbaijan is currently in the midst of an energy revolution. The development of the
Shah Deniz II full-field development has led to the 3500km, $45bn Southern Energy
Corridor, which will see gas piped through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), Trans-
Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to an Italian
interconnector, thereby representing supply diversity for much of Europe, away from
overreliance on Russian resources. This will initially see up to 16bn m 3  (bcm) of gas
pumped to Turkey per year, and then Europe, by 2018 and 2020, respectively. The
corridor is being constructed at over-capacity, and has the potential to carry up to
31bcm, augmenting Azerbaijani Caspian supplies with those from Central Asia – and
possibly Iran – and transforming Azerbaijan into both a supply and transit country.
After Gilles-Henri Garrault, Vice-President: International Relations, SEIN, opened
the event, Ellen Wasylina, President, IGMO, presented the special edition of
the Geostrategic Maritime Review, which focuses on the Caspian region.
Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Director, TEAS France commented: “This is an important
time to hear about the strategic importance of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan is a major
partner of the EU, located in the Caspian, and has established many business and
commercial relationships with EU member countries. This publication is a very
important addition to the available literature on the country.”
Gulmira Rzayeva, Senior Editor of the Geostrategic Maritime Review – The Caspian
Sea; Associate, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and Senior Research Fellow at
the Centre for Strategic Studies (SAM) under the President of Azerbaijan said: “It is
necessary to raise awareness of the countries around the Caspian Sea by organising
events of this type in Paris and other capitals in Europe. Energy is certainly the most
important issue in the Caspian region. EU countries are key customers for Azerbaijan,
as it reduces their reliance on Russian gas. Azerbaijan is developing the Southern
Energy Corridor, and this represents an alterative energy source to Russian Gazprom.
Liquiefied Natural Gas (LNG) will be particularly important in the future. Iran has the
resources, but it will need to produce more gas and oil.”
Dr Efgan Niftiyev, Expert, Hazar Strateji Enstitüsü, who moderated the panel
discussion, reiterated this, saying: “The Caspian is taking centre-stage in global
geopolitics and is central to the former Soviet space. The West is interested in
collaborating with the region in terms of energy security and has been primarily
responsible for the development of resources in the region. Now we are seeing local
companies involved in the development of the Shah Deniz field and construction of
the Southern Energy Corridor.”
Oktay Tanrisever, Professor at METU-Turkey, specialising in Regional Security,
Energy and Environment and Turkish Foreign Policy, commented: “The development
of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) since 2012 has resulted in Russia unleashing
its power in the region, and Russia and Kazakhstan – two littoral states in the Caspian
Region – are members of the EEU. However, Baku has demonstrated its ability to
pursue an independent policy.”
Jane Amilhat, Deputy Head of Russia–CIS Unit, DG Trade, European Commission,
continued: “We are in favour of greater economic integration, but this doesn’t really exist in the Caspian Region. The countries need to be integrated with the world monetary market, and Azerbaijan is coming closer to this. The EU is seeking market integration, energy security and supply diversification and hence the Caspian Region is particularly important to us.”

Agathe Thomas, ENGIE Representative in Baku, concluded: “Azerbaijan,
Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan account for 13 per cent of the world’s gas reserves.
With around 18 per cent of total reserves – making it the top potential supplier of gas
– it is possible that Iran will become a major export country, and this will be a
gamechanger. Azerbaijan is an oil producer with huge ambitions for gas and has the
potential to produce 30bcm per annum.”

Rich Palette of Opportunities Brought to the Heart of Brussels
On 14th October, more than 100 businesspeople and diplomats from across Europe
flocked to the prestigious Diamant Conference and Business Centre, near the
diplomatic area of Brussels, for the second Brussels Business Forum to highlight the
investment opportunities available in Azerbaijan. Bylined as Azerbaijan Through the
Eyes of International Investors, the event was organised by TEAS Benelux.
Marc Verwilghen, Director, TEAS Benelux and former Belgian Minister of the
Economy, Development Co-operation and Justice, acknowledged: “Europe has a new
heart – everyone seems to have discovered the ‘new’ Silk Road for which Azerbaijan
will, once again, be the epicentre. Azerbaijan has huge investment potential. The
objectives of Azerbaijan, Belgium, the whole of Benelux and the EU are the same. If
Azerbaijan is in your head, there will be fire in your heart, enthusiasm in your soul,
and dynamism in your body.”
Herman De Croo, Belgian Minister of State and the longest-serving Belgian MP,
spoke from his own experience: “I have visited Azerbaijan twice – in 2011 and this
year. Between those dates there was enormous change in the infrastructure, and I
noticed there has been an ongoing evolution in the receptiveness of the Azerbaijani
people to external business investment from Europe. The successful hosting of the
European Games in Azerbaijan is indicative of the drive of the authorities to be
anchored to Europe.”
The focus of the event was on changing preconceptions about Azerbaijan – a country
renowned for its oil and gas reserves. James Hogan, Managing Partner, Dentons Baku
– a TEAS member company – explained: “We have been active in Azerbaijan for 25
years. Azerbaijani investment policy is very open and, since independence, a stable
legal regime has been implemented. This now includes Special Economic Zones,
aimed at stimulating diversification of the economy.”
Haji Huseynov, Senior Infrastructure Specialist, World Bank, outlined some of the
World Bank-supported projects currently underway in Baku and across Azerbaijan.
He said: “The Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) railway will become functional by the end of
this year. The physical infrastructure is already built, and the first train completed its
journey in August.”

Axel Enthoven, President, Enthoven Associates, ranks amongst the most renowned
Belgian designers of the past four decades. He explained: “In order to develop,
mobility is extremely important.” He then outlined the options available for
constructing urban and countryside infrastructure, and how the chosen concept can
impact the relationship of the population to their country and their quality of life.
Agriculture is one of the predominant industries in Azerbaijan, employing around 40
per cent of the workforce. Home to 11 climatic zones, and blessed with fertile soil.
Azerbaijani farmers produce a wide range of fruit and vegetables. Manuela Traldi,
President, Italy–Azerbaijan Trade Institute (ITAZERCOM) commented: “Agriculture
has become an extremely important sector in the country. It plays a key role in the
process of diversification, and has the potential to become very important to European
As would be expected, the energy session – chaired by journalist Rick Gill, Managing
Director, Natural Gas Europe – attracted a great deal of interest. Dr Urban Rusnak,
Secretary-General, Energy Charter Secretariat, said: “In the 1990s, Azerbaijan was an
importer of oil products, but within a decade was an exporter, and ten years later
became one of the leading producers and exporters of oil and gas and will play an
important role in the future of the EU.”
Vusal Mammadov, Director, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic
(SOCAR), Belgian Office, spoke on the current status of the $45bn Southern Energy
Corridor, which will bring gas from the Caspian – and eventually Central Asia and
Iran – direct to an Italian interconnector.
Azerbaijan is currently striving to become the information and communications
technologies (ICT) hub of the region. The sector has received $3bn of investment
over the past three years. It is also central to the UN-mandated Trans-Eurasian Super
Highway (TASIM) project, which will bring enhanced-bandwidth services between
Frankfurt and Hong Kong, thereby reducing the digital divide between Western and
Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Zaur Hasanov, Director, TASIM, said: “TASIM is a
challenging and strategic project – passing through Azerbaijan – stretching for around
3000km and connecting the West to the East. It is a project of economic and
geopolitical significance.”
Azerbaijan is currently leading the way regarding the unified provision of public
services. The Azerbaijani Service and Assessment Network (ASAN) service,
launched just under three years ago, provides access to 280 services from 10
government agencies using e-government services. These are supplied via a network
of ASAN Centres, complemented by mobile ASAN services for those in the rural
regions. Kamran Agasi, Director of the Innovations Centre, State Agency for Public
Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
explained: “We have served around 6m of the 9.5m people in Azerbaijan, and
feedback indicates a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.” The day concluded with a series of
lively business-to-business meetings.

Life Celebration Concert Aids Cancer Research UK
Held amidst the impressive historic surroundings of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly –
designed by Sir Christopher Wren, also the architect for St. Paul’s Cathedral – a
concert on 10 November was held to celebrate the life of Fiona Maclachlan, a great
friend of Azerbaijan. The evening featured leading conductor and cellist Dmitry
Yablonsky, alongside composer, educator and pianist Farhad Badalbeyli, Rector of
Baku Music Academy – co-directors of the annual Gabala International Music
Festival in Azerbaijan. Violinist Janna Gandelman, who has brought Arab and Israeli
music students together via her Polyphony Foundation initiative, joined them. The
event, attended by 300 family members, friends of Fiona and of Azerbaijan, was
organised by TEAS and a retiring collection was made in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Alastair Maclachlan, husband of Fiona, whose work brought her to Azerbaijan in
2004, recalled: “This is the kind of evening that Fiona would have enjoyed. She loved
to be with family, old friends and new friends, but most of all she loved to extol the
wonders of Azerbaijan – particularly the music, heritage and culture that has come out
from this marvellous country. This concert was suggested by Dmitry and Farhad, and
I am grateful to them and TEAS for organising it.”
Dmitry Yablonsky commented: “Fiona was, and is, my friend. She probably knew
more about Azerbaijan than anyone else, due to her extensive research and travels in
the country. She was a remarkable woman and is in my heart every day.”
The programme of reflective music began with Czech composer Jan Benda’s Grave,
taken from his Violin Concerto in G Major, in a cello transcription, the deep
sonorities of which summed up the emotional nature of the evening. This was
followed by Robert Schumann’s Drei Fantasiestücke, which are imbued with a
melodious and song-like quality.
Thereafter came a rare performance, featuring Janna Gandelman, of Gara Garayev’s
Sonata for Violin and Piano, written in 1960, and dedicated by this leading composer
to the memory of the pianist Vladimir Kozlov, a long-term friend. Garayev was a
student of Dmitry Shostakovich and applied his modernistic atonal and chromatic
style to the eastern harmonies and microtones of mugham, the national music of
In a surprise addition to the programme, Farhad Badalbeyli performed his best-known
composition, The Sea (Deniz), a rhapsodic and melodious piece for solo piano,
inspired by his wife.
The contemplative theme recommenced with Rachmaninov’s romantic Three
Romances for Cello and Piano, written in 1890 and dedicated to his cousin Vera, and
Janna Gandelman again came to the stage for Debussy’s impressionistic Clair de
Lune, which describes the motion of dancers in the moonlight. The evening continued
with the cello transcription of Rachmaninov’s emotionally-charged Vocalise –
literally a song without words.

Following a standing ovation, Janna returned to play Massanet’s evocative Meditation
from the opera Thais, and the evening concluded with the Largo from Chopin’s
Sonata for Cello and Piano, played by Farhad and Dmitry. This was a glorious
musical celebration of Fiona, a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend of
Azerbaijan, who is much missed.

Azerbaijani Chalet Opens at Mulhouse’s legendary Christmas market

Jean Rottner, Mayor of Mulhouse, opened his city’s famous Christmas market on 20
November – an important annual tradition in the Alsace region of France – which
attracts many tourists from France and overseas. Braving heavy rain and wind, many
people came to hear the Mayor’s opening speech, whilst sipping warming mulled
wine and eating locally-produced seasonal confectionary. The city of Mulhouse, the
second largest in the Alsace region, is twinned with the ancient Azerbaijani city of
Yevlakh, and participation was facilitated by TEAS France, in conjunction with the
Azerbaijani Ministry of Tourism and companies from Gilan Holding of Azerbaijan,
notably the FMCG Group and Gilan Hospitality Group, represented by Elgun
Mammadov, its Deputy Director.
Mr Rottner started his speech by asking the crowd to pay tribute to the victims of the
recent Paris terrorist attacks. He stressed that, although France continues to grieve its
dead, it is important to demonstrate that the country is maintaining its important
traditions, particularly in the light of Christmas, which is a time of peace, family, and
Representatives of other cities and countries were present, including a delegation of
Mayors from New Caledonia. The Mayor of Mulhouse warmly welcomed the
Azerbaijani delegation, which hosted the colourful Azerbaijani chalet and presented
their country’s produce. During six weeks, visitors enjoyed Azerbaijani hospitality
and tasted top-quality Azerbaijani wine, paklavas, cay tea, and pomegranate juice.

Zaki Allal’s Transcendental Concert Emphasises Peace and Understanding
Coming soon after the appalling terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November that
claimed the lives of 130 people and injured scores of others, the Azerbaijani Cultural
Centre, located in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, has played host to a Concert for
Peace, performed by the internationally-renowned Algerian pianist Zaki Allal.
Attended on 8 December by around 80 audience members, the event was jointly

organised by the Ulduz Association and TEAS France. Attendees included Ayaz
Gojayev, First Secretary: Cultural Affairs, Azerbaijani Embassy to France; Yamina
Bachir Bouaidjra, Cultural Counsellor, Algerian Embassy to France; and Ayten
Gracco, President, Ulduz Association, who initiated and co-ordinated the concert.
Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Director, TEAS France, explained the purpose of the event:
“With tonight’s concert, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower – the symbol of France – we
have decided to pay homage to the many victims of terrorism and, above all, those
who died in the attacks in the French capital in November, which shocked the world.
This concert adds its voice to calls for peace in the world, using music, which is its
best messenger.
“Situated between East and West, and Europe and Asia, and rich in cultures,
languages and religious confessions, Azerbaijan has experienced many periods of
war. Many conflicts that impacted the region, following the fall of the Soviet Union
have still not been resolved, to this day. Azerbaijan also suffered badly from terrorism
during this period, and has been involved in the international coalition against
terrorism since 2001. It is the wish of TEAS to create a bridge between the peoples of
Europe and Azerbaijan and pay homage with music – a universal language that has
the ability to touch the heart and spirit, which is common to us all.”
Ms Gourdin went on to dedicate the concert to the victims of the appalling fire on an
oil rig in the Caspian Sea that claimed the lives of over 30 workers during the
Following ecstatic applause, Mr Allal performed his delicate Lamentations of the
Heart. He lost a friend in the Paris attacks, and another was wounded. Reflecting on
the significance of the evening, he said: “This has been a concert of my own
compositions, its purpose being to demonstrate that nothing can affect our common
human space. It is extremely important not to forget this today.”
The hosting of the concert at the Azerbaijani Cultural Centre was most appropriate, as
Azerbaijan – a secular nation – is synonymous with tolerance and acceptance, as
enshrined in its constitution. Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians live
alongside each other in perfect harmony. To find out more on Zaki Allal, go to

Upcoming Events
24 February
Khojaly Commemoration (Brussels)
BOZAR, rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels. 18.30hrs. RSVP to
Organised under the auspices of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, this event
comprises a screening of the independent documentary Endless Corridor
(Aleksandras Brokas; US/Lithuania; 2015) and a concert by Azerbaijani violinist
Nazrin Rashidova.
25 February
Khojaly Commemoration Concert (Paris)

Cathédrale St-Louis des Invalides, 6, boulevard des Invalides, 75007 Paris. 20.00hrs.
Organised under the auspices of the Justice for Khojaly campaign in association with
the Association des Amis de l’Azerbaidjan and the Ambassade d’Azerbaidjan en
France. Features the Orchestre Lamoureux performing the tone poem Khojaly 613 by
Pierre Thilloy.
26 February
Khojaly Commemoration Concert (London)
St. Paul’s Church (the Actors’ Church), Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9ED.
19.00hrs. RSVP to
Organised under the auspices of the Justice for Khojaly campaign, this concert
features the Deco Ensemble, led by Sabina Rakcheyeva (violin); Nazrin Rashidova
(violin); Jamal Aliyev (cello); Ayyan Salahova and Gunel Mirzayeva (pianos); and
Seljan Nasibli (soprano).